The Odyssey eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about The Odyssey.

“‘You will want no guide,’ she answered; ’raise your mast, set your white sails, sit quite still, and the North Wind will blow you there of itself.  When your ship has traversed the waters of Oceanus, you will reach the fertile shore of Proserpine’s country with its groves of tall poplars and willows that shed their fruit untimely; here beach your ship upon the shore of Oceanus, and go straight on to the dark abode of Hades.  You will find it near the place where the rivers Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus (which is a branch of the river Styx) flow into Acheron, and you will see a rock near it, just where the two roaring rivers run into one another.

“’When you have reached this spot, as I now tell you, dig a trench a cubit or so in length, breadth, and depth, and pour into it as a drink-offering to all the dead, first, honey mixed with milk, then wine, and in the third place water—­sprinkling white barley meal over the whole.  Moreover you must offer many prayers to the poor feeble ghosts, and promise them that when you get back to Ithaca you will sacrifice a barren heifer to them, the best you have, and will load the pyre with good things.  More particularly you must promise that Teiresias shall have a black sheep all to himself, the finest in all your flocks.

“’When you shall have thus besought the ghosts with your prayers, offer them a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads towards Erebus; but yourself turn away from them as though you would make towards the river.  On this, many dead men’s ghosts will come to you, and you must tell your men to skin the two sheep that you have just killed, and offer them as a burnt sacrifice with prayers to Hades and to Proserpine.  Then draw your sword and sit there, so as to prevent any other poor ghost from coming near the spilt blood before Teiresias shall have answered your questions.  The seer will presently come to you, and will tell you about your voyage—­what stages you are to make, and how you are to sail the sea so as to reach your home.’

“It was day-break by the time she had done speaking, so she dressed me in my shirt and cloak.  As for herself she threw a beautiful light gossamer fabric over her shoulders, fastening it with a golden girdle round her waist, and she covered her head with a mantle.  Then I went about among the men everywhere all over the house, and spoke kindly to each of them man by man:  ‘You must not lie sleeping here any longer,’ said I to them, ’we must be going, for Circe has told me all about it.’  And on this they did as I bade them.

“Even so, however, I did not get them away without misadventure.  We had with us a certain youth named Elpenor, not very remarkable for sense or courage, who had got drunk and was lying on the house-top away from the rest of the men, to sleep off his liquor in the cool.  When he heard the noise of the men bustling about, he jumped up on a sudden and forgot all about coming down by the main staircase, so he tumbled right off the roof and broke his neck, and his soul went down to the house of Hades.

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Project Gutenberg
The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.